Does your vape taste different than it used to? If you get a burnt flavor when you inhale on your vape you have either a burnt coil or burned your juice with too much heat. If you find yourself asking, “Why does my vape taste burnt?” the answer may be in one of the reasons listed below. Here are a few reasons why this happens and how you can avoid it in the future. Also make sure you check out our entire beginner vape guide to get expert and pro tips on vaping.

Some reasons why you may get a burnt flavor or dry hit:

  • You didn’t prime the coil before vaping
  • Your heat was too high
  • Your juice is too thick for your atomizer
  • Your coil is too old
  • You have a hot spot (in DIY coils)

What is a Coil Head Made Of?

Coil heads (or atomizer heads) are comprised of a coil with cotton wicking wrapped around it encased in a metal cylinder. The cylinder has feed slots for the juice to wick in through but often times it doesn’t get (a) enough time for the juice to saturate the coil, or (b) the heat may be set too high for the resistance of the coil. If the coil doesn’t get enough juice to wet it properly it can burn from being too dry, and if there is too much heat it can also burn ruining the cotton wicking leaving a bad flavor (from burnt cotton) that stays until you change the coil.

The remedy for a burnt coil is to change out the coil head. Once the cotton is burnt there is no fixing it. For RDAs and rebuildables, just replace your cotton wicking.

Here are a few tips for avoiding dry hits and burnt coils in the future:

The first thing to remember is always when using a new coil, prime it before vaping. It only takes a few minutes to drip a couple of drops of e-liquid in the center of the coil (where the cotton is) and onto the feed slots. After installing the coil and filling your tank with e-liquid, let it sit for roughly 5 minutes to allow the cotton to wick properly.

When it comes to wattage, higher ohms need lower wattage and vice versa. A tank or clearomizer that uses a standard 2.2 or 2.4 atomizer head uses a lower heat setting (between 10 – 30 watts) than low resistance coils. These coils are easy to burn so start off at the lowest setting for your device and work up until you get flavor and vapor with no burning.

Higher resistance coils, or tanks with a top wicking system may not be able to use higher VG juices. Liquids high in VG are thicker and may clog up your atomizer. You can opt for a lower VG e-liquid like a 50/50 blend or switch to a tank with a bottom coil feed.

If you get a weird flavor from a tank you use frequently it may just be that your coil is old and the juice in your tank has absorbed the flavor from it. Old coils get gunky over time and need to be changed. How often to change them will depend on your device and the wattage settings you use. If you use a lower heat (30 – 50W) and vape daily a coil should last you between 4 – 6 weeks. Most retailers say between 2 – 4 weeks, but you can make a coil last longer if you are careful. This is just an estimate though, your actual usage may be different.

Another reason for getting a burnt taste, especially in RDAs, is when you have a hot spot. A hot spot is when one coil isn’t glowing at the same rate as the other. When building coils for RDAs you want both coils to glow at exactly the same time as the other when you press the fire button. If one isn’t glowing the same as the other it is not generating enough heat to vaporize the juice and it will burn, even though your wicks are completely saturated. A good way to tell if this is the problem is to remove your wicks and look at the center of the cotton. If it’s dry or burnt in the center, you have a hotspot.

Press the fire button and glow your coils while the cotton is out of them and see how they look. If one isn’t glowing the same as the other you may need to strum it a little with a small tool or edge of the tweezers. Check again and repeat until both coils are glowing the same.

For RDAs another common reason for burnt flavor is using too much cotton. Your wicks should be just thick enough to slide through the center of the coil with just a hint of resistance. If the cotton gets stuck or you have to wedge it in, you’re using too much. Getting just the right thickness in wicking takes practice.

Don’t be afraid to pull it out and start over if you think you have too much. Likewise, if your wicks are too long or you find yourself stuffing them into your juice well, you probably need to trim them shorter. Too much cotton can cause inefficient wicking, which in turn, leads to burnt or dry hits. Check out all the License to Vape guides and expert vaping advice.